Just like Chilli Laugh Story <闔家辣>, Table for Six <飯戲攻心> was originally set for a Chinese New Year release in February, only to be pushed back several months later.
So, is the long-delayed Table for Six <飯戲攻心> worth the wait? That’s the question that I’ve been asking myself since frankly, I’m hardly a fan of Dayo Wong’s brand of comedies. His otherwise financially-successful last two movies — Agent Mr Chan <棟篤特工> (2018) and The Grand Grandmaster <乜代宗師> (2020) — were both painfully unfunny comedies. The fact that Table for Six <飯戲攻心> marks Sunny Chan (Wing-Sun)’s follow-up to his acclaimed but overrated Men on the Dragon <逆流大叔> (2018) didn’t exactly inspire immediate confidence.
As a result, I went in with a low expectation and hoping that Table for Six <飯戲攻心> might surprise me otherwise. And it turns out to be better than expected. Sunny Chan, who also wrote the screenplay, follows three brothers including the eldest one, Steve (Dayo Wong) and his younger siblings (Louis Cheung’s Bernard and Peter Chan Charm-Man’s Lung) all live together in their late parents’ home.
Sibling rivalry ensues over the course of a few dinner sessions, beginning with Steve discovering about Bernard has been dating his ex-girlfriend, Monica (Stephy Tang) behind his back. Steve, in turn, gradually brings back his new girlfriend, who turns out to be a popular Taiwanese influencer Meow (Lin Min-Chen). Lung, in the meantime, spends all his time slacking away at home playing video games while his disgruntled girlfriend, Josephine (Ivana Wong) is responsible for cooking the family dinners every night.
Sunny Chan could have settled for a typical Chinese New Year (now re-positioned as a Mid-Autumn Festival) comedy with all the silly gags and whatnots. And while the familiar gags remain in place, Table for Six <飯戲攻心> is predominantly the kind of comedy that leans heavily on dialogues. The movie even spends most of the time indoors, where the setting largely takes place within the confines of the siblings’ home and Chan frames his movie like a stage play in motion. The jokes mostly work, particularly the way Chan makes good use of the Cantonese wordplays to keep things moving at a lively pace.
Chan’s screenplay even slips in some subtle Hong Kong references and commentaries within the comedy elements of the movie, notably about moving on from the past and embracing the future. If that’s not enough, Chan has a knack for using foods as metaphors that reflect the characters’ lives and at one point, a drool-worthy moment involving how one of the characters described what makes a tasty mui choy kau yoke (braised pork belly with preserved mustard greens).
Table for Six <飯戲攻心> also benefits from an excellent ensemble cast, where I’m glad Dayo Wong doesn’t end up being too smug with his usual acting style. Instead, he shows great restraint here while finding the right balance between playing both comedic and dramatic roles. His co-stars, Louis Cheung and Peter Chan Charm-Man deliver equally solid support in their respective roles as Bernard and Lung. And not to forget, the rest of the cast including Stephy Tang, Lin Min-Chen and Ivana Wong, who steals most of the show as Josephine.
Even though some of the jokes miss the mark while the payoff somehow dwindled in the end, Table for Six <飯戲攻心> remains an above-average effort worth checking out. And most of all, after the recent release of Chilli Laugh Story <闔家辣>, it looks as if Hong Kong comedies are on the rise this year. Comedies that are not only genuinely funny but also thematically relatable, emotional and poignant.
By the way, remember to stick around for the outtakes during the end credits.